Remember when kitchens used to be their own rooms?
Once upon a time, open floor plans were unpopular. Boundaries between living spaces were the status quo, meaning kitchens were separate from the dining room, which was different from the rest of the house. Meaning, no one would ever think of eating on the sofa because the kitchen or dining room was intended for eating.
The boundaries used to be built into our physical spaces. Now, much like our open space-studio-Esque-living spaces, our boundaries are blurred. In an effort to feel more connected, we have sacrificed specificity, in turn, prioritized productivity.
Together, we will discuss:
How to work productively from home: by respecting self-care boundaries, as well as clearing and creating space for supportive surroundings
How physicalizing boundaries practice in your new home office can extend to your digital workspace and minimize distractions
How feeling connected to self-care and oneself solidifies our ability to connect with the world around us
How establishing specificity within your workspace saves you time and improves focus
Encouraging Productivity: Recognizing and Respecting Boundaries
Let us begin: The first step to working productively from home is respecting our home’s built-in boundaries. A clearly defined home creates an environment that supports focused and inspired work. To achieve this we must learn to identify our homes built-in boundaries and take the steps necessary to establish a focused work environment.
Feng Shui inspires this approach. Nested Feng Shui, my personal-holistic Feng Shui inspired-practice, is about balancing spaces to support and enhance specific goals and desires. For clients just begging to work from home, the goal is to build areas that increase feelings of ease and flow. This space is inspiring and supportive, so it is comfortable to sit down and do work for prolonged periods.
To begin identifying our boundaries, we must first assess spaces to work that eliminates distractions. Then we must ensure the workspace is clear and only contains supportive items. Eventually, these steps can extend into the digital realm, a practice I call digital laundry.
Establishing your Workspace: Practice Physicalizing Boundaries
For now, in our new home offices, let us begin by taking stock of the surfaces we can work from; these surfaces are usually a kitchen table or counter. It could also be a desk, traditionally buried in clutter, or maybe a vanity. In some cases, you can identify a broad window sill.
Once we have a flat surface to place our laptops and work accouterment, we want to assess the distractions in the environment. Remember those open floor plans? Open floor plans open our field of vision to several disturbances in the house. For example, when our desks face our kitchen, we can easily see piles or dishes or laundry or any other myriad of household distractions. These visual cues make it much harder to focus.
Whatever your flat work surface is, try to position yourself towards something calming, like a window or wall, to the best of your abilities cut off all other distractions from your eye line. After assessing our space, we have built the bare bones requirement for a distraction-free home workspace: flat surface, minimal visible distractions.
Before we jump to the next step, let us explore sofas and beds. As appealing as your sofa or bed are, our laps are-not a viable workspace. In Feng Shui, we like specificity and boundaries; because we work with qi-energy and believe energy flows where our attention goes. With bedrooms and sofas, which are clearly intended as places for rest and relaxation we want to avoid “muddling” the energy of the space with work. Using areas of rest for places of work means we are more prone to napping while we work or waking up and feeling like we are not working enough.
No, enough! Self-care is about respecting our bodies, our minds, and their needs. We must differentiate between rest-and-relaxation space and workspaces. This differentiation allows our bodies and minds to do the same, allowing us to dedicate ourselves to the intended purpose of the space fully. The easiest way to visualize and actualize this in our spaces is to recognize that laptops belong on flat surfaces, not in our laps.
Encouraging Mental Wellness: Self-Care in the World Around Us
Building off of the flat surface, minimal distractions, respecting self-care boundaries: what goes on your desk is just as important. A clear clutter-free desk is critical for focus. The easiest way I have seen for clients to achieve this is to take everything off their flat surface and start with just their computers.
Work with nothing but the laptop for the first few days or weeks. Eventually, necessities will make their way into your at-home workspace. Examples of eventual needs include pens, writing pads, glasses of water; these items will end up onto your space without you having to put much thought into them. Pay attention to these additional items that slowly appear around your computer or writing pad as they will add to your productivity, and also need to be tidied.
For me, the items that add to my sense of ease and productivity on my desk are a pen cup, some post-it’s, a statue of a peaceful meditating dog, a favorite cat coaster that makes me smile, a work lamp, a jade plant in a small pot, and a diffuser. Acceptable desk items are things that enhance rather than detract and make you want to come to sit at your workspace and work. Additionally, appropriate desk items are items that save you from standing up and going to the kitchen or looking around. Having a pen and paper handy helps with calls, the cup coaster, and a cup of water that keeps me from unnecessary breaks.
Budgeting your Time: Establishing Specificity Within Your Workspace
The time-saving benefits of specificity within your workspace are also applicable to chargers. When a laptop has one home, its charger also has one home, and we can save time unplugging and relocating all over the house or apartment. One set workspace also makes it easier to keep track of all the other technology, a mouse and mouse pad never need to move, as well as phone chargers, external hard drives, headsets, and so on.
Without ever questioning, we take advantage of this time-saving strategy when we put all of our medicine and hygiene products in one room and only use that room for those needs. When we go to the gym or exercise room, it has all the equipment we do not want to keep in our healthy living spaces. Therefore, an essential part of the home office is differentiating from the rest of the home.
Pick one place to focus on. Anytime away from that workspace is rest time. Begin to teach yourself boundaries by literally respecting the barriers in your home.
Take Away: Start With A Single Space
For those new to working at home: skip the drama of moving around and trying to figure out where you are productive. Clear a space on your kitchen table or excavate your unused desk or vanity. Set up shop on your chosen flat surface, making sure your gaze is as undistracted as possible so you can save time and settle in. We need to use the visible physical boundaries and clues of our home so we can respect our self-care.